Largest parachute drop since the World War II

On 13th May 2024, a joint NATO airborne operation was executed in Romania. The parachute drop was part of exercise Swift Response 2024, one of multinational trainings within Steadfast Defender 2024, NATO´s largest collective defence drills in decades.

The exercise, featuring around 90,000 troops from all thirty-two member countries, involved between 1,200 and 1,500 soldiers, making it the largest Allied parachute operation since the Second World War.

The airborne operation was performed in the vicinity of Câmpia Turzii air force base in Romania. The multinational crew was led by German paratroopers from the Rapid Force Division, followed by soldiers from France, Romania, Spain and the United States. It required fourteen transport aircraft to carry the paratroopers to the drop zone, what makes it one of the NATO’s largest and most complex manoeuvres this year.

´Swift Response is an integral part of Steadfast Defender, and NATO demonstrates its ability and capability to quickly react and respond and deploy forces’, said Major General Dirk Faust – Commander of the Rapid Forces Division, German Army. ´Paratroopers, you can bring them very quickly to an area or to a terrain to commence an operation or conduct an operation where you don’t need an airfield.´

Swift Response 2024 exercise participants parachute from a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft during a Joint Forcible Entry operation, Romania, May 13, 2024 (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Low)

Once you board the airplane and once you’re in the air, there is a little quiet in the air´, the German commander continued. ´Every paratrooper, you look around and you see the paratroopers, they are with their thoughts. And then, when the preparation starts for the jump, it gets a little bit more busy, and you can feel, you can feel every paratrooper wants now getting out of the airplane and wants to jump. And nevertheless, there is always a little bit of excitement, and they are waiting until the light gets green, the horn sound sounds, and the first guy gets out of the door. And all the others follow automatically.´

From the private to the general, all have to go through the same door in the aircraft and under the parachute, there is no privilege of rank or anything. All are the same´, underlined Faust.

Swift Response 2024 exercise participants parachute from a German A400M Atlas aircraft (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Low)

Cover photo: US Army Soldiers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Brigade and US Air Force Airmen assigned to the 435th Contingency Response Group prepare to jump over Romania, May 13, 2024 (USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Bartoszek, cropped).
Information from the NATO press materials were used. All photos © U.S. Department of Defence (DoD). DoD information materials were used, in compliance with Public Domain licence. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.